"He was a great guy." "He was my mentor and role model." "I really like him." My cousin told me a story this weekend of going to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting with my brother who spoke at the meeting. Everyone was enthralled and after the meeting surrounded him like a rock star and asked him all kinds of questions. After the meeting, a bunch went with him to a nearby coffee shop and talked for hours.
I hear other people talk about my brother and it's like they are talking about someone else. Someone I don't know. I am amazed and surprised and warmed and guilt ridden.
Hearing about my brother from someone else's perspective is a real eye opener.
To me he is a needy person who wasted his life on drugs and alcohol. Who was self-centered, who never held a "real"job and who made my parents unhappy. I am often angry with him.
To others he is a person who was caring and smart and funny and led a life of purpose.
It made me think about the way God looks at us. He knows the person on the inside. The person he created. He looks beyond the earthly mistakes and shortcomings and looks into the heart.
I try to look at all people as God's children. It isn't always easy and, it seems, is even harder when it is my brother. But hearing about him from others makes me take a look inside myself and examine my heart. It is often a hard heart and that makes me feel bad.
Don't get me wrong, I love my brother deeply. We have a long and complicated history. But I realize that I really don't know him and that is sad. It is sad because he has been my brother all of my life and because he is dying of hepatitis C and liver failure.
I hope God grants me enough time to really get to know my brother. And I pray that he gives me eyes to see people as he sees them and not through my very limited vision.